A small finely carved white and russet jade hound

白玉帶皮臥犬

Song dynasty or earlier, 960-1279, China

宋代或更早, 960-1279, 中國

Length: 5.5 cm, 2.17 inches

長: 5.5 釐米

The recumbent hound is finely depicted with its muzzle resting on its outstretched forepaws, with the hind legs neatly tucked under the body and the tail curled in a spiral to one side. The slender body is carved with intricate details- three simply curved grooves on each side indicate the rib cage, and the sinuous and knobbed ridge indicates the spine. The stone is of a pale tone with russet inclusions.

For a good discussion of hounds in Chinese art, see Rawson, in ‘Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing’, where she notes that jade figures of hounds were probably made from the late Tang to Ming dynasties. Furthermore, Rawson argues, ‘while tomb figures represented the necessities of daily life as required by particular ranks and provided sustenance for material life, jade and hardstone ornaments and toggles of all sorts were much more closely linked to the identity and aspirations of particular individuals. Hounds in jade may have been worn by those who wished to be known for their prowess in hunting. Such activities were closely linked with the rank and status of high-born individuals’ (p. 367-68).

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